RCMP accused of misrepresenting findings of Privacy Commissioner
Just days after 16×9’s story on a 2012 privacy breach in the RCMP, the National Police Force is being accused of misrepresenting the facts of the case in an email to its membership.
On Saturday, 16×9 told the story of how senior commanders, including Commissioner Bob Paulson, allegedly broke Canadian privacy laws. They filed a complaint with the BC College of Psychologists in 2012, accusing longtime police psychologist Mike Webster of operating beyond the scope of his practice by criticizing the RCMP publicly, and in treatment with RCMP members. In the process of filing the complaint, however, the RCMP used Webster’s records of treatment sessions, containing the confidential information of five Mounties.
In a 2014 report, the Privacy Commissioner ruled the RCMP’s conduct was a violation of federal law, calling it a “serious privacy breach”.
Read the Privacy Commissioner’s report below:
The RCMP did not respond to multiple interview requests prior to the airing of the story, but 16×9 has obtained an email sent to all members on Friday night, one day before our story aired.
In it, Chief Human Resources Officer Daniel Dubeau says his message was intended to provide “context” to members on the forthcoming 16×9 story, but BC labour lawyer Sebastien Anderson says Dubeau’s email misrepresented the Privacy Commissioner’s findings.
Full email to RCMP members below:
Dubeau claimed the Privacy Commissioner found that “the internal disclosures of personal information constituted a consistent use, pursuant to the Privacy Act.”
But according to Anderson, “that is NOT what the Privacy Commissioner said”.
Anderson wrote that in fact, the Privacy Commissioner said disclosing Mounties’ personal information to Commanding Officers would be allowed if it could be shown that it was in the interest of the safety of the public and RCMP members. Instead, Anderson points out that the Privacy Commissioner stated:
There is no evidence to suggest that the use was for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the public or of RCMP members.
Read Anderson’s full response here.
The Privacy Commissioner also found that the RCMP did not ensure that the College had proper authority to collect its members information, nor did it ensure that the information was needed to investigate the complaint made by the RCMP against Webster.
The RCMP’s complaint against Webster was dismissed by the BC College of Psychologists with no further action warranted. But now, Anderson is representing five Mounties in a privacy breach lawsuit against the RCMP, and he says there is reason to believe the number of complainants will grow. He told 16×9 on Sunday that more members contacted Anderson about alleged privacy breaches after our story aired.
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